Supportive care for parathyroid cancer

Supportive care helps people meet the physical, practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of parathyroid cancer. It is an important part of cancer care. There are programs and services available to help meet the needs and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer and their loved ones, especially after treatment has ended.

Recovering from parathyroid cancer and adjusting to life after treatment is different for each person, depending on the stage of the cancer, the organs and tissues removed during surgery, the type of treatments and many other factors. The end of cancer treatment may bring mixed emotions. Even though treatment has ended, there may be other issues to deal with, such as coping with long-term side effects. A person who has been treated for parathyroid cancer may have concerns about the following.

Vocal cord paralysis

Vocal cord paralysis is when the vocal cord muscles can’t move. It can happen with surgery for parathyroid cancer when the main nerve to the larynx (recurrent laryngeal nerve) is damaged or removed.

Vocal cord paralysis can cause problems with speaking, breathing and swallowing. Signs and symptoms of vocal cord paralysis include:

  • hoarseness
  • breathy voice
  • high-pitched sounds during breathing (stridor)
  • difficulty breathing
  • coughing or choking when swallowing food or drink

Treatment for vocal cord paralysis often includes voice therapy to help improve your voice and cope with any changes in your voice. Speech therapists (speech-language pathologists) assess and treat voice and speech problems. They work closely with surgeons and oncologists to make sure you get the help you need.

Sometimes vocal cord paralysis is treated with surgery. Certain surgeries may be done to improve the function of the vocal cords and the airway. An injection of a substance into a paralyzed vocal cord can also be used to help the vocal cords work better.

Questions to ask about supportive care

To make decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about supportive care.

Expert review and references

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Parathyroid Cancer. 2015:
  • Griebeler ML, Thompson GB . Parathyroid tumors. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 83:1189-1194.
  • Sasaki CT . Vocal cord paralysis. Beers MH, Berkow R (eds.). Merck Manual Professional Edition. 2016:

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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